Jonathan Katz: Blog https://www.jonathankatz.art/blog en-us (C) Jonathan Katz (Jonathan Katz) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:27:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:27:00 GMT https://www.jonathankatz.art/img/s/v-12/u176991545-o245362949-50.jpg Jonathan Katz: Blog https://www.jonathankatz.art/blog 95 120 Inside the Dumpster https://www.jonathankatz.art/blog/2019/5/inside-the-dumpster I’ve developed a new habit of compiling a box of photos of my recent work, as well as favorites that I’m in the mood to share, and then showing the photos to friends as well as to casual acquaintances.  I love sharing my photos and I’m continuously pleased that other people seem to enjoy my printed images – that my experiments aren’t so esoteric or feeble that people fall over immediately with boredom.  I frequently tell people that I’d love for them to take a complimentary, signed 8.5" x 11" print of their choice for display because I am happy that another of my photos will be out in the world for people to engage with.  Earlier this week I went through some photos with some friends in my painting class and the first two people who looked through my collection of recent work both singled out my new “Wildflowers” image as the one that they wanted.  So with that arsenal of market research to go on I decided to base my first blog in quite some time on the making of “Wildflowers”.

 

Please click on images for a larger view.

The story of how I found this scene is the pretty much the same story I might tell about most of my images.  I was walking down an alley with my Border Collie, Hazel, when suddenly I found a dumpster that might be a subject for a photo.  In this case, the dumpster was nearly empty of trash, so rather than taking a photo of the outside of the dumpster and working with scratches, rust and reflected light, I looked for a composition that might exploit the many marks and stains on the inside walls that had accumulated over time as a result of people dropping in all manner of rubbish. This kind of scene, with relatively large area of intricate marks, presents an opportunity to get farther away from the surface and capitalize on the random complexity that often suggests different things to different viewers.  More typically, I compose close-up detailed scenes from the surfaces of wood or metal exploiting the details that, while randomly formed due to the play of the elements and environment, appear to me to suggest meaning or intention.  I constantly appreciate the graceful lines and the complexity of these random patterns, as they vastly exceed the capabilities I can ever hope to cultivate in order to put down such intricate, unselfconscious, and layered brush strokes with oil paint.  That is one of the "tricks" of my approach to art; I leave the hard work to nature and chance and just steal the many random images that are all around for the taking.  For me, that is infinitely easier than confronting a blank canvas and figuring out how to realize a painting. It is less common that am I able step back from a subject, as I do with the interior dumpster shots, and find a scene with elements that tie it together. So, this kind of shot is nice when it works.

The “mountains” in the background of this wildflower scene were, I believe, areas of the dumpster that had been dented from the outside and were slightly pushed in.  The image required only minimal cropping and then filtering to bring out the incipient value relationships which are modestly discernible to the eye but that the camera sensor is capable of gathering in great detail.  I was able to rest my forearms on the upper edge of the dumpster to allow for excellent stability in lieu of a tripod in relatively low light (ISO 12800, f11, 1/20).

Here are some more examples of interior dumpster photos at an approximate distance of the far wall of the dumpster.  While the results are always quite different, you may seem some overall similarities especially when compared to the majority of the close up work that I do on the outside of dumpsters.


  Bird Still LifeBird Still LifeBird still life inside of dumpster Rust Abstract 19Rust Abstract 19

 

  ExposedExposedInside wall of asphalt truck

I've noticed that when I develop an image that I find pleasing and which suggests a specific interpretation or meaning to me, others tend to find the image pleasing too, but often for totally different reasons and with completely alternative interpretations. This phenomenon intersects with many other issues, including visual perception, aesthetics, and questions of subjectivity and consciousness, so I'm going to leave development of those topics for a future blog.

https://www.streetphotoswithatwist.com/printgallery
 

--Jonathan

 

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(Jonathan Katz) abstract photography street photography https://www.jonathankatz.art/blog/2019/5/inside-the-dumpster Thu, 16 May 2019 14:04:11 GMT
The Fuji X100F - The Ultimate Tool for Composition https://www.jonathankatz.art/blog/2018/6/how-the-fuji-x100f-helped-me-learn-to-properly-compose-in-camera By Jonathan Katz

6/14/2018

Today marks my one-year anniversary using the Fuji FX100F. This tool transformed my professional photography and set me on a path towards a full-time obsession with abstract photography and painting.  While I had grown increasingly interested in finding form in everyday objects through the viewfinder of a Nikon D750, things clicked for me within days of using my new Fuji X100F. 

The Fuji solved a long-standing problem for me.  Previously, I needed to review an image in playback mode to actually see the finished image.  Now, while framing shots, I began to visualize images as they would appear in a finished photo on the LCD screen of this compact, fixed-lens camera. For decades I struggled to properly see an edge-to-edge image from the eye piece of an SLR, shuffling my gaze to ensure that I was clearly seeing each edge of the frame. I had, of course, used "live view" with my Nikon, which offers some similar advantages to the Fuji's LCD. In my experience, however, there are compromises involved with "live view" during both the preview phase and while clicking the shutter release.  Please don't get me wrong, I achieve many satisfying images with the D750 and its stellar Nikon lenses, and there are, obviously, myriad applications for which the DSLR is a valuable tool. If you take a look at my "Realistic", "Flowers" and Animals" portfolios http://www.streetphotoswithatwist.com, you will get a sense of my non-abstract work with a DSLR.  For my street photography and abstracts, though, I find myself struggling and compensating when I am using a DSLR rather than the Fuji X100F.   While the Fuji has unlocked a mode of visualization that allows me to better use a DSLR, or even a phone camera, I'm still happiest when shooting with the X100F.

After an of evening fiddling with my new Fuji X100F, I went out the next morning in order start experimenting with the device and to get comfortable with the basics of its operation. I had walked over to a nearby parking lot where there was a collection of garbage awaiting pickup.  Within minutes, I started seeing the overall shapes and tones of my subjects in the viewfinder, rather than focusing (literally) on image sharpness as I had always done. Here is the first experiment I performed while I was looking at an old, discarded steel desk with some ugly velcro stuck to its surface while the camera was defocused in manual focus mode: 

Please hover for captions

Reality ShotSteel Desk with Velcro (in focus) Implied Landscape with Water and SkyCamera in manual focus mode, slightly defocused.

While I soon abandoned the approach of taking out-of-focus images, I now saw images on the LCD in terms of color, tonal contrasts, and overall shapes in ways that I hadn't before.  

The ergonomics of this compact camera allow me to frame a close-up composition at a comfortable viewing distance to my eye so that I can realistically see what the resulting image will look like.  I hesitated to purchase the X100F because I thought a fixed wide-angle lens might be too limiting.  That was before I realized the practical value of carrying a small, light camera that focuses to about 4 inches and allows a viewing angle that approximates the way I look at things with my eyes. I should also mention that the magnified focus feature of the Fuji is activated by slightly turning the focus ring while in manual focus mode. This is a great tool that I simply cannot do without when I'm trying to focus on close-up subjects that are out of range for autofocus mode.  Finally, the lens is tack sharp at F16 from edge to edge even when focusing close which gives me a lot of freedom when I am composing an abstract image.

Beyond the ergonomic features I've just described, the X100F has another key attribute related to its LCD Screen. The LCD shows, in real time, a close approximation of the image, including the exposure settings and film simulation mode, as they will appear in the resultant jpeg.  For example, if you happen to have the camera in Black-and-White Acros Film Simulation mode, you will see a contrasty monochrome image through the LCD screen.  This feature alone could prove valuable to photographers striving to see subjects in black-and-white. Think for a moment how amazing this is!

There is also a second, excellent optical viewfinder which is activated by holding the camera up to your eye. As this is similar to looking through the viewfinder of a DSLR, I don't use that mode very often, unless bright lighting conditions render the LCD too difficult to see.  For this reason, I use the LCD/OVF mode activation feature to set the mode to "LCD Only" so that the OVF is not accidentally engaged if I happen to get my hand, body, or camera strap too close to the eye piece.  The LCD/OVF modes can be easily selected from the "view mode" button on the back of the camera.

I've touched on some of the basic visualization benefits and ergonomic strengths of the Fuji X100F. In later posts I will further explore and explain some additional aspects of the camera such as exposure bracketing, ISO sensitivity settings and automatic-to-manual focus tricks.  I will also elaborate on how I operate the Fuji X100F when I am working to capture close-up images.

Please feel free to leave comments with your suggestions for topics you'd like me to cover related to the X100F or more generally with regard to my compositional approach to abstract photography.  Below are some samples of thumbnail images showing my abstract photographic style. All of the images are of everyday objects (i.e metallic dumpsters, concrete, details on cars, heavy machinery, traffic signs, stone tiles) that I encounter while walking around my neighborhood with my Fuji. I have, thus far, limited my finishing technique to Adobe Lightroom and Color Efex Pro.  My website, www.streetphotoswithatwist.com , has more of my images on display (and for sale) as well as a link to my public FlickR gallery which shows the full metadata (i.e. exposure, ISO settings, date, title, etc...) for many of my images.

SplatSplatRust on guard rail in a parking lot AscentAscentStone tile Dark CloudDark Cloud LonelinessLonelinessDumpster streaks and rust spots ExtinctionExtinctionDumpster scratch Armed PoochArmed PoochAn argument for gun control GuardianGuardianI will admit to retouching the end of the object in the hand of the subject to enhance the composition by providing space around the center of interest.

Best wishes,

Jonathan

www.streetphotoswithatwist.com

 

 

 

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(Jonathan Katz) abstract photography fuji x100f street photography https://www.jonathankatz.art/blog/2018/6/how-the-fuji-x100f-helped-me-learn-to-properly-compose-in-camera Thu, 14 Jun 2018 10:30:30 GMT